In this classic 1880 presentation to the Anthropology Society of Paris, Francisco Moreno shows and describes two prehistoric skulls that he exhumed from areas near the Rio Negro in Patagonia. According to Moreno, the first skull dates from the Quaternary period, while the second was less old but was deformed in the same manner as the skulls of the Aymaras. In a Discussion session following Moreno's talk, various Anthropology Society members provide many interesting insights and conjectures, such as Doctor Paul Topinard's assertion that some of the skulls Moreno had excavated in Patagonia were clearly those of Neanderthals, and therefore the southern regions of South America might have been the original homeland of the Neanderthals.
March 19, 2012
A miracle work
This work's author, Francisco Moreno, was the most important anthropologist of Argentina, if not South America, during the 19th Century. In 1877 Moreno founded the Anthropological Museum of Buenos Aires, and later on became Director of the La Plata Museum of Natural History. He undertook several anthropological expeditions to Patagonia, which at the time was largely uncharted territory. It is, in fact, a miracle that one is able to read the interesting 1880 work presented here, "Two Prehistoric Skulls Brought Back from the Rio Negro." It turns out that earlier in 1880 Moreno, during an expedition to Patagonia, was captured by Tehuelche tribesmen and condemned to death, but fortunately managed to escape the day before his appointed execution. As a result, Moreno was able to continue to pursue for over 2 more decades his valuable research, which led to our possessing a greatly enhanced understanding of the anthropological history of South America.
-- Professor Gerald Kuhn